The GHB Interview: Ted Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, Newland

Newland’s new CEO, Ted Nelson, shares his insight on Newland’s corporate citizenship and sustainability efforts that qualified it for Developer of the Year

GREEN HOME BUILDER: Congratulations on being promoted to the CEO of Newland! How has this transition phase been for you and the company?

TED NELSON: I think it has been very positive for our organization as we align and ready ourselves for future growth. We’ve made some shifts internally and regionally, aligning ourselves more closely with our different markets; this allows us to be nimble in delivering what a new homebuyer wants in a community in Portland, Oregon, which is different from an empty-nest couple looking for less maintenance and more time to travel and see their grandkids in Tampa, Florida. I’ve been with Newland for over 16 years with over 40 years in residential and mixed-use development and we’ve never lost our focus on our customers. How our communities live matters to us.

GHB: Could you describe what Newland does in terms of corporate citizenship? What efforts is Newland involved in through OneNewland?

TN: Since the beginning, Newland has worked to facilitate and build a sense of community which often centers around our schools, charitable events, and generally working to make our communities even better. Whether we are helping charities like Habitat for Humanity build a home for a deserving family or educating children on recycling and minimizing waste, our team members dedicate their time and resources to have a positive impact.

Under our philanthropic umbrella, OneNewland, we think globally and act locally with charitable initiatives that are as unique as our communities. Caring is part of who we are and one of our corporate values. One of our cornerstones is to focus on health and wellness, infusing that into our communities with miles and miles of trails, fitness centers, social activities, and amenities that encourage an active lifestyle and provide opportunities for meaningful connections.

GHB: Newland has won a number of accolades in recent years, from best-selling communities to top master-planned communities. In your own words, what makes a Newland community unique?

TN: At Newland, we are obsessed with the customer. We do deep research to understand our customers, what they value, what tradeoffs they are willing to make, how they are changing and how their preferences are evolving. We envision from the ground up, and we share this research with our partners—planners, designers, builders, and commercial developers—to bring that vision to life. A successful community ultimately fosters better living for its customers, encouraging interaction and building of those social connections.

Our approach centers around placemaking, always starting with the unique attributes of the land and how people want to live. Everyone wants a place to live that is comfortable, safe, and where they can live their best lives with family, friends, and neighbors. We also know they want conveniences in close proximity to where they live so they can work, shop, dine, and play close-by.

GHB: Green building is no longer a niche industry, but rather something expected by many buyers. What do you expect (or hope) to see with the future of sustainable development?

TN: We believe that sustainability is an evolving path, and if we do our jobs correctly, our communities will be a better place 50, 100 years from today; that’s what sustainability really means. Our placemaking is a sustainable, holistic approach creating communities that respect the individual, the land, the natural environment, and the unique influence of the local marketplace. Our communities integrate into the regional landscape, where we have to balance the need for housing and services while reducing impacts and carefully renewing landscapes that have been impacted through the development of new housing, employment, services, civic uses, parks, and preserved open space. Newland’s sustainability mission and principles are integral to the future of place—serving as our ‘true north’ in envisioning and creating communities that conserve resources, preserve open space and educate the community at large on sustainability practices.

An important part of Newland’s sustainable mission is to continue to advance and expand a positive impact. We hold ourselves accountable in an ongoing effort to refine and improve our sustainability initiatives. With that knowledge, we hope to better understand the unique positioning, offerings, market, and jurisdictional controls that frame and impact each community. We strive to continuously improve and set forth a vision.

Newland’s communities have active development periods that may range from five years to decades. It is our goal, that even after Newland has completed its operations, the communities continue to thrive and evolve, reflecting the fiscal and environmental sustainability principles that were instilled during the community’s envisioning. We create strategies that guide and propel more holistic planning and design that we use nationally and with our partners.

GHB: As 2019 comes to a close, what exciting plans are in the works for Newland moving into 2020?

TN: The challenges facing community development today and in the future are keenly focused on sustainability and attainability—so we too are focused on meeting the needs, lifestyle demands, and price points of the customer while balancing what’s good for the environment and the greater community at large.

Our placemaking will focus on a more integrated mix of uses–both horizontally and vertically integrated—dedicated to how people want to live, work, play, socialize, and shop, all within the community in which they live. We’ll see more infill, both urban and suburban, with more density applications and efficient use of land and spaces.

A community is a place where people can take a breath, take stock of where they are, build relationships, socialize, and live their best life. I want to challenge our industry to continue to innovate and think creatively on how we can design and implement sustainable communities into the future.

Our sustainability mission and principles at Newland will continue to serve as a guide throughout the community creation process—from preserving acres of open space and planting native vegetation, to water conservation strategies and engaging the local community. This is a key concern for the consumer and will continue to be integral in the future.

GHB: Is there anything you would like to add?

TN: I do believe that the community development business has changed over time as customer values shift, and will continue to evolve in the future with a concerted effort on renewability and sustainability. Sense of community is more important now than ever before as the world is more complex and information-overloaded, and it’s only going to get more complex in the future. The community of the future will make it easier for the customer, it will serve as a “home base” that gives people a place to get grounded, and to get a clearer view to navigate their way forward through a complex world.

A community is a place where people can take a breath, take stock of where they are, build relationships, socialize, and live their best life. I want to challenge our industry to continue to innovate and think creatively on how we can design and implement sustainable communities into the future.